A bootleg Facebook iPad app is selling so many copies right now — for money — that it’s the most popular paid app in the entire store.That’s because, despite almost 8 months of time to build an iPad app, Facebook hasn’t yet released one.
We were reminded of this by Twitter’s iPad app, which finally launched yesterday and is currently the no. 4 most popular free app in the iPad App Store.
Meanwhile, a cottage industry has sprung up of bootleg, third-party Facebook apps for the iPad — which actually cost money. And they are very popular.
The no. 1 overall paid iPad app right now is a third-party Facebook app called “Friendly,” which seems to be getting a boost in sales because of a “back to school” 75%-off sale. (It’s currently $0.99, but was previously priced at $3.99.) The no. 6 paid iPad app right now is another Facebook app called “Social,” which costs $1.99. It’s a newcomer on the scene, but has good reviews.
Friendly has more than 2,600 “ratings” in iTunes, suggesting that tens of thousands of people have BOUGHT a copy, generating tens of thousands in revenue. (Only a fraction of purchasers bother to review apps.) We bet those buyers are a little upset they couldn’t have just downloaded a free app directly from Facebook, which probably would have been even better.
What’s the point? Who needs apps when there’s a touch-tailored version of Facebook’s web site? Or when Facebook’s full web site works decently on the iPad — as Apple showed off when they first unveiled the iPad in January?
On mobile devices, even the iPad, there will be things that apps do better than mobile web sites for a long time. This includes the ability to upload photos from the iPad’s library, access to Apple’s user interface libraries, and generally, a smoother, better user experience.
That said, Twitter’s excellent iPad app shows that building a good iPad experience is very difficult, and requires more thought and different user interfaces than a simple iPhone app. So we understand why it’s taking some time.
Still, the pressure is on Facebook to deliver an iPad app — hopefully at least for the iPad’s iOS 4 upgrade in November.
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